One by one they took the stage standing in front of a red
curtain backdrop with mic in hand. And, one by one they have been
Now only three remain in the annual CSU Idol competition –
Justin Brady, Laurel Patterson and Deonte Waldroup.
They have beaten out nine of their peers in the three previous
rounds and are all hoping to emerge victorious in the final round,
which will take place this Friday in the Ramskeller at 7 p.m.
“The competition itself has been a lot of fun,” said Deonte
Waldroup, who is a senior majoring in liberal arts. “I look forward
to it every week so I am kinda sad that it is coming to an end this
The three finalists will all sing two songs on Friday and the
winner will walk away with free recording time in the Blasting Room
and scheduled appearances throughout the year at events like the
But in the end, the general consensus among contestants seems to
be that whatever the outcome, the experience is what really
“It’s been a lot of fun to compete with these people and watch
them perform as well,” said Justin Brady, who is a junior majoring
in music and technical journalism.
Whether or not they win, all three contestants still plan to
pursue a career in music. Brady plans to record a demo tape in
hopes of launching a career in music, Waldroup wants to start an
R&B band and Patterson plans on becoming a music therapist.
“Of course I would be so excited to win, but any one of us would
be great,” said Patterson, who is a sophomore majoring in music
Gina Rotollo, who was runner-up in last year’s CSU Idol
competition and judged in the first round of this year’s
competition, said that the winner of CSU Idol will be based more on
what style appeals most to the audience rather than talent.
“The talent is a lot more competitive this year because there
are so many different styles,” she said. “I thought everyone had
great talent, it just depends on what style the audience
But it takes more than a good voice to become the next CSU
“Of course I judge their voices, talent and sound, but for a
competition titled CSU Idol, I have judged on their appearance …
stage presence, audience appeal, selection of songs and charisma,”
said Blane Harding, who works in the dean of liberal arts office
and has been a judge at all three of the previous rounds.
Throughout the first three rounds it was clear that even though
each of the 12 performers had a different song to sing, they all
shared a love of music and performing.
“I love to sing and I felt like (CSU Idol) was a good way for me
to not only to compete in something I feel I am good at but to sort
of get my name out there as someone who can carry a note,” Waldroup
said. “Singing and music is life to me.”
And Waldroup isn’t the only contestant who has a gift to
“All the contestants each have their own, unique style, but as a
whole they are really talented,” said Katherine Mangold, a member
of the Association of Student Activities Programming who is in
charge of this year’s competition.
During the first round of competition, Waldroup was praised by
the judges for his successful performance of the Michael Jackson
hit, “Human Nature.”
“You’re smooth man,” raved Todd Queen, judge and director of the
CSU Opera program. “Michael Jackson is about as hard to sing for a
man as Whitney Houston is for a woman and you pulled it off.”
Waldroup also received rave reviews from his 14-year-old sister,
Tenika Waldroup, who was visiting from Chicago.
“I was surprised how good he was,” she said. “I’ve never heard
him sing. He’s better than Michael Jackson.”
Brady and Patterson were just as successful in the first round
with performances of Uncle Kracker’s “Follow Me” and “Hands Clean”
by Alanis Morrisette.
And like Waldroup, the other contestants also had a support
group of friends and family who have attended their performances.
In fact, audience size has exceeded expectations is expected to
remain steady for the final round.
“I was really surprised how many people showed up,” said Nick
Donaldson, an ASAP member who worked as event staff at the
performances. “I didn’t know what to expect but we ran out of
chairs and it was full all the way to the back.”
Donaldson attributed the size of the crowd in part to the fact
that since all paying audience members get to vote, there are big
benefits for contestants to get a large group of friends in the
audience, and Brady agreed that it had helped him in the
“To win I think it depends on a mixture of talent and how many
people you bring,” Brady said. “I know that a lot of my votes came
from my friends, but actually having them there made it harder.
It’s easier for me to perform in front of people I don’t know.”
Melissa Pester, executive director of ASAP and a judge for the
final round, agreed.
“Everyone is really talented, but some stood out more than
others last week who were eliminated last week and probably
shouldn’t have been,” she said. “But that’s the way CSU Idol works,
it is based on votes, not talent.”
However, just appearing in CSU Idol has its benefits, even for
those contestants who don’t win.
“One of the benefits is that since you have exposure from (CSU
Idol) people will recognize you as a singer,” Rotollo said. “I’ve
gotten offers to do performances because of it even though I didn’t
And there are other benefits beyond possible future
performances, such as creating a connection with fellow
Chris Ortiz, who is the MC for the competition and the opinion
editor at the Collegian, said that behind the scenes the atmosphere
is different than what many people might expect.
“Even though they’re competing with each other the contestants
are really supportive of one another,” he said. “I think some
friendships have been made. I was worried that it would be really
cutthroat, but it’s not at all.”
A good support system can be essential to these performers as
often the biggest challenge is not the actual singing, but
overcoming the nervousness that accompanies it.
“It’s like a hurricane,” Angel Wint, who was eliminated in last
week’s round. “The performance is like the eye of the storm and
then you sit back down and you’re nervous again thinking, ‘Did that
sound as bad as I thought it did?'”
And Wint certainly isn’t the only performer who gets caught up
in the storm of nerves that accompany any performance. Shaking
hands, deep breaths, tense faces and performers consoling one
another are run-of-the-mill sights as contestants prepare for their
But none of them have forgotten that this is, first and
foremost, a competition, and many contestants are hoping that this
is the first step in a music career.
“I’m really considering pursuing a career in music,” Brady said.
“That’s why it would be great to win so I could use the recording
time to record a demo tape.”
Brady is also planning on trying out for “American Idol” this
Waldroup, like Brady, hopes to become a professional musician,
while Patterson participated in CSU Idol purely for fun because she
is already pursuing her goal, to become a music therapist.
“If singing is their passion and they want this as their career,
I wish them all the luck in the world,” Harding said. “I hope to
one day turn on my television and be able to say, ‘I heard them on
“It is honestly easier for me to get on stage and sing than it
is to sing for a friend or a small group of people. When I’m on
stage I feel like I belong, like all my cares in the world cease
and there is a different me up there. I try to give the audience
that same feeling that I have when I am up there.”